After studying Chinese in Michigan, this American tech entrepreneur moved to Shenzhen in 2000 to take a job in ecommerce, selling watches online. He soon launched an English website to help expats who had, like him, emigrated to China’s first « Special Economic Zone » (SEZ).
Formerly known as « Shenzhen Party », the site was recently rebranded to « Now Shenzhen » and offers a plethora of useful information, from local school guides, to wine tastings, apartment listings and job openings.
“Never smooth sailing doing business in China, but you get so much education when working in China”, maybe an understatement but Brent has managed to run a dynamic city guide and business listing service without encountering typical media sensitivities.
Interestingly, most of his site traffic comes from Google search and overseas referring sites, most of which are blocked in China. He leverages that content to build traction and engagement via various WeChat communities, “We’re a hybrid of social media and published content, job openings and apartment rentals’.
His two main audiences are in-bound business travellers and foreign residents; but the site also appeals to local Chinese wanting to meet expats or work for foreign companies. “We are at the nexus of the international community coming to Shenzhen to make a fortune and strike it rich!”
Home to the global tech giants, Tencent, Huawei and DJI, Shenzhen has now surpassed the GDP and population of Hong Kong. Its success was recently celebrated by the visit of Chinese President, Xi Jinping, for the “40th Anniversary of Founding China’s First SEZ”.
Brent’s advice for setting up a cross-border business, tapping into the growth of China, “Think BIG. China favours medium sized enterprises so make sure that you have enough capital and support to sustain the growth. Don’t go for the individual restaurant, go for a chain.”
Plug One: Find part-time or full time help with your business in Shenzhen.
Post job openings on https://shenzhen-jobs.com. Free amplification across Now Shenzhen’s social media channels on WeChat and LinkedIn. (After posting, email with the subject “852RebootHK” to email@example.com).
Plug Two: 35% off Online Mandarin Chinese classes from Omeida
Learn Chinese online in the comfort of your own home, contact Omeida Chinese and use the discount code “35REBOOT” to get a 35% off 1-to-1online Chinese Courses. https://www.omeidachinese.com/chinese-language-courses/online-chinese/
Episode 20 of #852RebootHK, recorded outside DJI’s Flagship Store in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong on 22nd October, 2020